No one saw James Knowles beat 30-year-old Demont A. Brooks to death or set fire to his apartment. But District Judge Tasha Scott ruled prosecutor Phil Evans had presented enough circumstantial evidence against Knowles, who’s charged with second degree murder and arson, to send his case to a grand jury and up to the higher Circuit Court, keeping it on track for trial.
An outburst from Knowles led deputies to remove Knowles from the courtroom and pause the hearing.
Norfolk police and firefighters recall that when firefighters got inside the apartment, they found heavy smoke, no fire and Brooks’ body lying on a futon. "Someone had tried to set fire to the apartment using gasoline, but a lack of oxygen had starved the flames, which petered out," Norfolk Fire-Rescue fire marshal Kenny Harlan testified.